HC Deb 13 June 1979 vol 968 cc430-2
34. Mr. Winnick

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will state the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards financial assistance for Tanzania and Uganda.

35. Mr. Peter Bottomley

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on aid to Uganda.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Neil Marten)

We are committed by the previous Administration to a substantial programme of economic assistance for the development of Tanzania, commensurate with its size and poverty and its Commonwealth links; and this will continue.

An agreement was signed with the Uganda Government on 30 May adding a further £1 million to the £1 million United Kingdom grant previously agreed. We intend to enter into discussions with the Uganda Government about the resumpion of a full aid programme when circumstances permit.

Mr. Winnick

That answer is promising, but should we not first pay tribute to the forces that have liberated Uganda from a murderous regime, whose crimes and atrocities are never likely to be forgotten? Will the hon. Gentleman accept that aid for the two countries in question is absolutely vital? Will he also accept that many of us hope that all the surviving criminals of the former regime will be brought to justice under the rule of law in Uganda?

Mr. Marten

On the hon. Gentleman's first point, the Government have already paid tribute. I note his other two points.

Mr. Bottomley

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on his appointment and on the dispatch with which agreement has been reached with Uganda? Will he react in similar speedy ways in dealing with Governments where the provision of aid does not properly reach the people for whom it is intended, such as Afghanistan, and switch such aid to countries like Uganda where there are greater opportunities for it to be used properly?

Mr. Marten

In the case of Afghanistan, we are talking about £1.5 million aid this year, most of which is capital aid. Switching that aid would mean suspending contracts, which would be a fairly costly exercise. I believe that it is better to treat the Uganda question separately from that of Afghanistan.

Dame Judith Hart

Does the hon. Gentleman, to whom I give a warm welcome on his appointment, agree that the cost for Tanzania of defeating Amin in Uganda has been between £1 million and £2 million? Does he recall—and I expect that he does, because he has as long a memory as I do in this House—the Conservative welcome to the coup which brought Amin to power? Therefore, will he not agree that even within a reduced aid programme extra assistance should now be made available to Tanzania?

Mr. Marten

I congratulate the right hon. Lady on the honour which has been conferred upon her. If she is saying that out of the aid money we should recompense Tanzania for its military expenditure, I must point out that we are not allowed to do so. Aid cannot be used for that purpose.

Mr. Arnold

Has my hon. Friend decided whether to proceed with the British-funded road programmes in South-West Tanzania?

Mr. Marten

I should like notice of that question. My answer is that I think so.

Mr. Greville Janner

Can the hon. Member assure us that the cuts in overseas aid expenditure will not affect aid to Uganda? Is he aware that this potentially rich country has been totally impoverished, and that all hon. Members would welcome urgent help for that country so far as it is possible for us to give it?

Mr. Marten

At present our deputy high commissioner there is having discussions with the Uganda Government. Until we know precisely what the Ugandans want, we cannot say whether the amounts we agreed will be cut.